green crystal

my Coronavirus 2k20 project

concept and model

I was lucky to get an amazing character model from the super awesome Tiffany Ribera-McKay, inspired by a drawing by Fukari on deviantART. 


I will be rendering with Renderman for Maya, texturing with Substance Painter, and grooming with XGen in Maya. I will possibly take this into Houdini if I can get RfH up and running with a Houdini Educational License. In that case, I'll start the groom in XGen and bring the curves into Houdini.

inspiration and reference


Eiti Sato on ArtStation

My Post.png

I've included the two characters on the left because I feel they hit the style that I'm aiming for with my own character. I like the quality of the skin (it's "tactile") without becoming uncanny. 

Andrey Lizunov on ArtStation



I started with the texturing and shading of the crystal on her necklace. I'm using a layered shader in Renderman, mixing my main crystal shader with a glass shader tinted yellow-green. I made the textures in Substance Painter. 

I decided to do something different than the art by making it transparent at the top and rougher/more opaque at the bottom. I am not married to this look and might go back to the way the art feels a little more. 


Added a dark grey shader for the "string" and a gold shader for the metal. 


I'm putting the crystal on hold and working on the skin displacement for a bit in Substance Painter. I was able to use some of the tileable maps/scans that come for free in Substance Painter for most of the face. I would like to learn Mari but I don't think my computer can handle it. 

  • upper lip is a disaster

  • bottom of nose is too bumpy?

  • need disp under eyes

  • top of nose doesn't blend well into forehead


In the images above, I was fighting my lighting and seeing my skin blow out (there is no spec on that render). I adjusted my key/fill, and I accepted that some areas may blow out because I am viewing in sRGB instead of an ACES LUT or a similar view transform.

I was lucky to get some notes from the other Blue Sky character materials artists on the image to the left. 

  • too bumpy overall - let subsurface soften it a bit to maintain roughness variation 

  • need to be more porous in some areas (bumping in and out)

  • repeating capillary shape in color map

  • freckles don't read clearly enough


I did what I could to hit the notes from my teammates about the skin. I might revisit that and the crystal later but wanted to move ahead to the eyeballs. 

My "style references" don't have much detail in the whites of the eyes/sclera, so I am not adding any veins or diffuse & bump texture there. I used the model and modified the texture that came with Tom Newbury's gumroad eyeball tutorial linked above. 



The hair groom is a little complicated without the Blue Sky Houdini fur tools. But it's good practice for me to work without them. 

Tiffany made some amazing hair tubes for this model, which I am using in XGen for my groom.

XGen requires tubes to be open on both ends, which I wanted to do using the carve sop in Houdini. Unfortunately their point order is scrambled which means I'd need to rebuild the tubes in order to carve them. So I'm manually deleting the faces from the tubes in Maya to open them up. 

I'm having trouble using region control with the tube groom and can't generate any hair from my guides. Either way, I prefer to generate my hairs in Houdini because I find it faster, and the clumping and cutting modifiers are more intuitive.

Now that I have access to the Learning license Houdini, I can render with Renderman for Houdini. So once I make all my guides in Maya, I will move over to Houdini and painstakingly recreate all my Renderman shaders... or I'll use my WFH machine and work with the Blue Sky tools instead :) 


I was having a problem with generating guides from my tube geometry, in that the tubes seemed ok but the hairs tried to connect back to the scalp at the ends. One of my awesome Fur coworkers at Blue Sky told me I might need to flip my UVs on my tubes. So I planar projected all my tubes and flipped the UVs in the V direction, and the hairs generated from the tube like I expected. 

It was a slow process to manually cut off both ends of the 30 hair tubes in the model. But it is easier than starting from scratch and trying to match the groom to the art. | | 408.421.1232

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